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Fort Clark

Historical Site Categories: Native American History and War of 1812

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What's The Story

In October 1812, Ninian Edwards, Territorial Governor of Illinois, launched a three-pronged attack on Native American villages at Peoria Lake. He believed the villages harbored warriors who had attacked American settlements. Edwards led a horse-mounted force and destroyed Black Partridge’s village on the east side of the lake.

On November 5, 1812, Captain Thomas Craig arrived by boat at the largely French community of Peoria. Unknown to Craig, William Clark, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and Ninian Edwards had retained the services of Thomas Forsyth to monitor tribal movements at Peoria Lake. Despite Forsyth’s protest that the community was not involved, Craig arrested a few dozen of the village’s inhabitants, burned part of the community, and transported those he detained downriver to Alton.

To assert government authority, in 1813, a force of about 1,400 men under the command of Brigadier General Benjamin Howard returned to Peoria to erect Fort Clark. In addition, they destroyed what remained of Gomo’s and Black Partridge’s abandoned villages.

In retaliation, Native Americans, including Black Partridge attacked Fort Clark. They were repulsed and later signed a treaty of peace.

To learn more:

Ferguson, Gillum 2012. Illinois in the War of 1812. University of Illinois Press.

Johnson, Mark L. 2011. Fort Clark Constructed at Peoria 1813. Peoria Magazine. January

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